Earlier this year in May, Rebekah Jones, the data scientist working for Florida, who put together that state’s COVID-19 database, made national headlines when she was fired by the state over a disagreement in reporting the numbers. Jones says she was fired for refusing to manipulate data that showed a higher number of deaths while the state claimed she was fired for insubordination. Fast-forward to this month, and what started as a firing ended with armed agents of the state allegedly pointing guns at an entire family, during a raid on their Florida home.
After she was fired in May, Jones made the following claim:
I was asked by DOH leadership to manually change numbers. This was a week before the reopening plan officially kicked off into phase one. I was asked to do the analysis and present the findings about which counties met the criteria for reopening. The criteria followed more or less the White House panel’s recommendations, but our epidemiology team also contributed to that as well. As soon as I presented the results, they were essentially the opposite of what they had anticipated. The whole day while we’re having this kind of back and forth changing this, not showing that, the plan was being printed and stapled right in front of me. So it was very clear at that point that the science behind the supposedly science-driven plan didn’t matter because the plan was already made.
After she was fired, Jones continued her work reporting the numbers by starting the website Florida COVID Action, which is a dashboard of Florida COVID information, like the one she used to run for the state. Since then, she’s been running this site without much resistance from the state — until now.